Sorry Christians: Our Bible Contains Fake Letters From Paul (And Peter)

Sorry Christians: Our Bible Contains Fake Letters From Paul (And Peter) March 29, 2019

I hope you’re sitting down. Maybe grab a stress ball or cuddle with your therapy dog.

Ready? Ok. Here goes.

The New Testament is filled with epistles that were not written by Paul or Peter. These are called “Pseudepigrapha” because, like other fake scriptures circulated in the late second and third centuries, they were not authored by the Apostle whose name appears on it.

The textbook definition of Pseudepigrapha is:

“Spurious or pseudonymous writings ascribed to various biblical patriarchs and prophets but composed within approximately 200 years of the birth of Jesus Christ.”

In other words, the New Testament you’re holding contains “scriptures” that are about as reliable as The Gospel of Thomas, The Epistle of Barnabus, or The Book of Enoch [which the New Testament book of Jude quotes, by the way].

Sorry to break it to you like this, but there was no other way.

You need to know the truth.

So, which books of the New Testament are Pseudepigrapha and how did they get in there?

Great questions! Let’s take the first one:

Several letters bearing Paul’s name are disputed among scholars, namely:

  • Ephesians
  • Colossians
  • 2 Thessalonians
  • 1 Timothy
  • 2 Timothy
  • Titus

Scholars are sharply divided on whether or not Colossians and 2 Thessalonians are genuine, but when it comes to Ephesians and the so-called “Pastoral Epistles” [that would be 1 and 2 Timothy, and Titus] most critical scholars have no trouble labeling them as pseudepigraphical works.

I know. It’s hard to take. Breathe deep.

Are you ready for more?

No one knows who wrote either 1 Peter or 2 Peter, but the one thing every scholar agrees on is this: It wasn’t the Apostle Peter.


But, the good news is that we do have seven undisputed letters from Paul that were accepted and included in nearly every early Christian canon, including the first by Marcion.

Those are:

  • Romans
  • First Corinthians
  • Second Corinthians
  • Galatians
  • Philippians
  • First Thessalonians
  • Philemon

Ok, so on to the second question: “How did these fake letters from Peter and Paul end up in our Bibles?”

Well, that’s easy: Because the Christians who decided which books were in or out of the Canon – around 400 AD – didn’t make their decisions using textual criticism. Usually, the decision was made by consensus, or based on opinions.

In fact, in some cases, they just prayed and waited for God to move the scrolls that were not authentic on to the floor. [Nope. I’m not making that up].

Still other decisions about the Canon, like the Council of Trent [1546] were nearly too close to call,  with 24 yea, 15 nay and 16 abstaining. So, it could’ve gone another way, I suppose.

Maybe a better question is: “Why do some Bible scholars today doubt these letters of Paul and Peter?”

This could take a long time. So, if you’re really interested in the gory details, I’d recommend Googling “Disputed Letters of Paul” or “Peter” and start heading down the rabbit hole.

For the rest of you, here’s the short answer:

Summary of reasons to doubt Pauline authorship of Ephesians:

  • The language and style are different. Ephesians contains 40 new words, e.g. 1:3 “heavenly places”; “family, or fatherhood” (3:15). 1:19 has four different words for “power”
  • Ephesians and Colossians use a different word for “reconcile” from Paul’s word (Col 1:20, 22; Eph 2:16).
  • Ephesians is similar to Colossians at many places. Eph has 155 verses, 73 of which are similar to ones from Col: e.g. Eph 4:1-2 ≈ Col 3:12-13, Eph 5:19-20 ≈ Col 3:16-17, Eph 6:21-22 ≈ Col 4:7-8.
  • Ephesians takes many key ideas from Colossians. Wisdom, mystery. The word of truth. Gospel of salvation. Saints of God.
  • Ephesians also refers to most of the other letters of Paul. In many ways it seems like a summary of Paul’s ideas, written by a disciple of his, and brought up to date for the Church of his own time.
  • Metaphors, or illustrations in Paul are turned into actual objective realities in Ephesians (and sometimes in Colossians also). E.g. faith, gospel, word of God, reconciliation, salvation, human resurrection and glorification, the Church as the Body of Christ, Minister, Saints of God.
  • Ephesians shows that the Church is becoming an advanced and powerful universal institution (rather like the Church today). In Paul’s time there was no universal Church in that sense, but only informal gatherings of individual believing communities.
  • Ephesians contains no mention of charismatic gifts.
  • Ephesians shows Jesus acting on his own account and by his own authority without making explicit that he is acting on God’s behalf and with God’s blessing; in Paul’s other letters, this is more explicit.

Summary of reasons to doubt Pauline authorship of Colossians:

  • The basis for the early objection was that the letter aimed at refuting Gnosticism, a heresy which had not reached its ascendancy until the early 2nd century.
  • Another argument centers on differences in style and vocabulary with significant stylistic differences between Colossians and Paul’s other works, such as unusual genitive constructions.
  • The extensive theological development in the epistle compared to other epistles has also led to skepticism concerning Pauline authorship.

Summary of reasons to doubt Pauline authorship of 2 Thessalonians:

  • Much of the dispute concerns the linguistic similarity between 1 Thessalonians and 2 Thessalonians. For example, 1 Thess 2:9 is almost identical to 2 Thess 3:8.
  • Reflects knowledge of the synoptic gospels, which, according to the current scholarly consensus, had not been written when Paul wrote his epistles.
  • Actually makes the specific claim not to be a forgery, which is a typical claim of forgers at the time.
  • The eschatology of each letter to the Thessalonians is considerably different.

Summary of reasons to doubt the Pastoral Epistles of Paul:

  • Marcion’s canon [the earliest of all] does not include them and there is no evidence he had ever heard of them
  • The vocabulary and phraseology used in the Pastorals is often at variance with that of the other epistles.
  • Over 1/3 of the vocabulary is not used anywhere else in the Pauline epistles, and over 1/5 is not used anywhere else in the New Testament, while 2/3 of the non-Pauline vocabulary are used by 2nd-century Christian writers.

Summary of reasons to doubt that Peter wrote 1 Peter:

  • The language, dating, style, and structure of the letter has led many scholars to doubt its authenticity.
  • The writer appears to have had a formal education in rhetoric and philosophy, and an advanced knowledge of the Greek language, none of which would be usual for a Galilean fisherman.
  • The letter lacks all reference to any personal details regarding the historical Jesus of Nazareth.
  • The author references the Septuagint translation which would’ve been an unlikely source for historical Peter to reference.

Summary of reasons to doubt that Peter wrote 2 Peter:

  • The second epistle of Peter identifies the author as Peter but uses a different spelling than 1 Peter and the rest of the New Testament.
  •  There are significant linguistic differences from 1 Peter
  • The author references the book of Jude
  • The epistles makes allusions to 2nd-century gnosticism
  • The letter encourages the church in the wake of a delayed Second Coming of Christ.
  • The letter has the weakest amount of scholarly and external support than any other New Testament epistle.

BOTTOM LINE: Your Bible is chock-full of pseudepigrapha.

However, this doesn’t mean that these books should be removed from the Canon. Nor does it suggest that they are not inspired by the Holy Spirit.

Personally, I don’t know who wrote Ephesians or Colossians, but I can affirm that whoever did so was quite inspired by the Holy Spirit and very much enlightened as to the nature and character of Christ.

I’m less convinced of any inspiration when it comes to the Pastoral Epistles, however, and I’m not sure yet where I stand on 1 or 2 Peter.

The question of inspiration and authority is, in itself, a serious problem for most Christians. We tend to place more authority on the Bible rather than on Christ, even though Christ [in the Bible] tells us that “all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me [Christ].” (See Matt. 28:18)

What we have to do is to learn how to abide in Christ and to know the voice of the Good Shepherd so clearly that we know inspired truth when we hear it, regardless of where it comes from.

Even the most famous verse in the Pseudepigraphal book of 2 Timothy says that “all the God-breathed writings [graphis] are profitable for teaching, instruction, rebuke and training in righteousness.” [2 Tim. 3:16]

The trick is to learn which writings are God-breathed and which are not.

How do we do that? Well…

“Their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away.” [2 Cor. 3:14]

“But we have the mind of Christ.” [1 Cor. 2:16]

“My sheep hear my voice, and they follow me and I know them.” [John 10: 27-28]

Let’s learn to lean on Christ and not on what others have said about Christ.

“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you will find life. Yet you refuse to come to me to find life.” [John 5:39-40]

The more we abide in Christ and the more Christ abides in us, the easier it will be to discern the voice of God.

Our authority is Christ, and Christ alone.

Do you agree?


Keith Giles was formerly a licensed and ordained minister who walked away from organized church 11 years ago, to start a home fellowship that gave away 100% of the offering to the poor in the community. Today, He and his wife live in Meridian, Idaho, awaiting their next adventure.

His new book “Jesus Unbound: Liberating the Word of God from the Bible”, is available now on Amazon and features a Foreword by author Brian Zahnd.

He is also the author of the Amazon best-seller, “Jesus Untangled: Crucifying Our Politics To Pledge Allegiance To The Lamb” with a Foreword by Greg Boyd.

Keith also co-hosts the Heretic Happy Hour Podcast on iTunes and Podbean. 

BONUS: Want to unlock exclusive content including blog articles, short stories, music, podcasts, videos and more? Visit my Patreon page.


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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • CO Fines

    Interesting. Not that the idea is new to me, but that you choose to put it out there. I tend to think that the only genuine for sure new testament scripture we have that Paul actually wrote himself is toward the end of Galatians where he talks about the big letters he uses in his own handwriting. He may have written a passage or sentence or signature in other letters as a personal identifier but he doesn’t mention it as such. This makes a lot of sense if, like me, age has made it difficult if not impossible to read without reading glasses unless the letters are very large, like for small children, same for writing by hand. Thank God for the computer and for glasses. This is a natural occurrence of most far-sighted people that gets noticeable around the age of forty. Before glasses were available, you either had to beg or hire someone to read and write for you or you were out of luck. I’ve forgotten my glasses and needed to ask someone in a store to read a price or a label for me. I forgot my glasses in church once when I was lector and had to borrow someone else’s reading glasses.

    A lot of Paul’s letter were ostensibly written while he was in jail. Most likely he was not provided with a writing desk and supplies, and was dependent on whoever came to visit to send messages. Some of these people might have been skilled scribes able to take a letter in shorthand as it was spoken and get it close to word for word, others might have relied on written or mental notes of what was said and reproduced it as best able. If you were in jail and depending on others, you probably would tend to say, close enough.

    If you had a plumber fixing your toilet and he said, hey, you’re a writer, right? I want to send a letter to the editor of my union newsletter but I’m a lousy writer. If you write it for me, I’ll cut your bill in half. And you would say, sure, what is it you want to say? Maybe he would have something written out, maybe he would just tell you what he wanted, you would write it, and he would sign his name to it and send it in. Nothing devious, nothing unethical, you may even have done the same for fellow pastors. Peter the fisherman might have been related to your plumber and Mark might not have always been around.

    I’ve written things for friends and neighbors, coworkers, no big deal, but it is to them. The idea of some of our scriptures being technically written by an amanuensis or friend doesn’t bother me at all. In that I am familiar with writing, I can understand how letters would be written in entirely different styles publicly to various groups and privately to colleagues, especially if done by other people. I don’t put much stock in higher criticism that holds them to be basically forgeries written later on, and don’t think that would be the same as the accepted genre of writing as some notable person like Enoch. I don’t think these would have passed the sniff test by early congregations if they were meant to deceive, and if they were obviously not intended to deceive, like modern Sherlock Holmes stories, I think that would have been noted.

    But who knows. Paul does mention letters written to deceive in his name so the possibility exists. I’m comfortable with what we’ve got, warts and all, don’t think it’s a problem unless you’re hanging on to the letter of the law and inerrancy, which I would consider a problem in itself. I figure on asking Paul and Peter, John too, if I ever get the chance. Meanwhile I’m working on loving God and neighbor which doesn’t leave a lot of time for higher criticism.

  • Chuck Johnson

    I am an atheist.
    The fraud and error do not surprise me.
    These things have been discussed for may years.

  • Chuck Johnson

    “all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me [Christ].” (See Matt. 28:18)

    The authority to quote and promote the Christ ideas has been given to Keith and to other religionists.
    The authority to be skeptical and to reject the supernatural part of the Christ stories has been given to me and to other skeptics.

    So who ends up having “all authority”?
    I do, you do, everyone else does.
    It’s a shared authority.

  • Eric LeFevre

    The reasons you list for stating that Paul did not write his letters are abysmal. Have you even tried to look up scholarship from opposing viewpoints? I gather you have not. All of the points you mention have been addressed many times over the course of the last 200 years and there has been no meaningful rebuttal of any of them by any liberal scholar anywhere. Hand-wave dismissals of “your just a fundamentalist” is not an argument. My challenge to you Keith:

    Provide a meaningful rebuttal to the following points:

    1. Paul employed scribes (or amanuensis if you prefer the more technical term) in the writing of all of his letters. The use of a different scribe would mean that each letter written by a different scribe would be linguistically distinct even as each letter is Authentically Paul.

    2. Romans and Galatians are as linguistically distinct from each other as Ephesians and Colossians are linguistically distinct from the rest of the Pauline corpus. So if differences in syntax and word choice are the hallmarks of different authors, then by the standard you presented, Paul did not write Romans, or did not write Galatians, or didn’t write either of them. In fact, each letter of Paul contains unique words and grammatical constructions and is linguistically distinct from each other letter of Paul, so by the standard you presented in your original post, none of the letters of Paul in the New Testament were authored by Paul. They were all forgeries written by different people and attributed to Paul at a later date.

    3. But that the conclusion of point (2) makes no sense whatsoever. Paul had to write something or there would be no reason to forge in his name. The first people to deny Pauline authorship of Ephesians and Colossians was the Tubingen School in Germany under the leadership of FC Baur. Baur presented a number of theological justifications for the rejection of most of the Pauline corpus (his arguments are too technical and too long to summarize accurately here, but the books can be found at most theological libraries). The only problem was that his theological justifications were wrong and universally rejected by the middle of the 20th century with the papyri finds, even by Liberal Bible Scholars. Liberal Bible Scholars however kept most of Baur’s conclusions and simply changed the justifications. One of the justifications Liberal Bible Scholars used was the linguistic argument you outlined in your post.

    4. So a consistent application of the linguistic argument would lead to a rejection of all Pauline authorship of anything, but at least Liberal Bible Scholars can apply the argument inconsistently to get the desired result. So in the 1930s Udny Yule (google him) proposed a statistical analysis of word use to determine authorship of a book. It was this method that was used by Liberal Bible Scholars to deny Pauline authorship. The only trouble is that a large sample of vocabulary is needed to get a good sample, about 20,000 word sample of his writing. Ephesians has 2422 Greek words, Colossians has 1582 Greek words. Ergo both letters are entirely too short for linguistic statistical analysis to have any meaningful conclusions.

    5. Tradition holds that Ephesians and Colossians (along with 1 Timothy and 2 Timothy) were written at the end of Paul’s life while he was in house arrest at Rome. It is completely within reason that Paul would refer to prior works. By this standard, Rowling didn’t write Deathly Hallows because Deathly Hallows refers to events that happened in the Philosopher’s Stone. Oh and much of the language and vocabulary is unique and distinct as well……But hey, never let consistent standards get in the way of your conclusions.

    6. Now we are getting to my favorite argument against Pauline Authorship: The good ole “advanced ecclesiology” argument, or as you put it “the Church is becoming an advanced and powerful universal institution”. What pray-tell constitutes an “advanced and powerful institution”? The fact that the letters mention a church as an institution? So let me get your argument straight: Pauline authorship is to be denied because it contains “advanced ecclesiology” that was not present in first century documents, therefore we know that these epistles are not first century documents.

    Great logic, a truly stellar display of circularity.

    The only argument you mention that has any bearing whatsoever is the argument that the letters all display attacks on Gnosticism. It is a serious argument that deserves a full debate.

  • MurphsLaw

    “Our authority is Christ, and Christ alone.

    Do you agree?”
    You do realize that the only reason you are able to state that claim (which is agreeable), is because of, and not in spite of ,
    those very same sacred scriptures that you seem to have some glib dissasitifcation with…..

    For how else would you know of Christ in the first place?

  • I would like to read more of the history of this statement:

    “In fact, in some cases, they just prayed and waited for God to move the
    scrolls that were not authentic on to the floor. [Nope. I’m not making
    that up].”

    Will you help me find a good source? You have piqued my interest–to say the very least! Thank you!

  • So, if I take away your Bible then you have no way to connect with Christ or to hear or know Christ?

  • Plus we could have known of Christ via the long-attested oral tradition.

  • Mark Rich

    I’m quite surprised that you don’t mention, in discussing the problems with Colossians and Ephesians, the solid patriarchy of the ethical instructions of those letters, which is SO unlike Paul. These letters support both the subservience of wives to husbands AND the obedience of Christian slaves (of which Paul knew many) to Christian masters (of which Paul knew only one – Philemon – and Paul fixed him good!). Slavery and patriarchy are no part of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and Paul knew that – but Col and Eph DIDN’T.

  • Zenon Lotufo Jr.

    Very good article, Keith. Congratulations. I have discussed the same question in a chapter (“Bible and Obedience to To Whom?” which I wrote for the book “Text and Community: Essays in Memory of Bruce M. Metzger”, J. Harold Ellens, (edit.) The point: if God is a living God who communicates with us, will we give more authority to the voice of a kind God speaking to our conscience or to biblical texts in which a cruel God would speak, for example, of an hell of eternal punishments?

  • Vance Morgan

    This is only an “OMG!” or “Gasp!” sort of post for those who worship the Bible as the literally true, divinely inspired Word of God. For any typical progressive Christian who reads posts on this channel, it’s a “So . . . what’s your point?’ essay.

  • mike4819

    Thank God for the Catholic church

  • mike4819

    Keith’s letter to his followers….The Gile-ovians…..

  • mike4819

    Par for the course for this crap..syncretic…Site.

  • Joshua Sonofnone

    The authorship of the books you listed is disputed by liberal scholars, but not by conservative Bible scholars. As a conservative seminary professor, I know this. I wish you and the other liberals would quit trying to lead people astray. I was educated by theological liberals and moderates, so I know how they think.

  • Rod Bristol

    Has anybody else shifted their vocabulary to fit their audience and their situation? A less jaundiced attitude than exhibited by some scholars has permitted others to see consistency, adapted to situation, rather than incongruity. The stuff people argue about is mostly stuff they don’t understand.

  • ashpenaz

    I was raised a Christian Scientist. Why should I believe that inspiration stopped with the apostles? If the writers of the disputed letters weren’t apostles, and they wrote in generations after the last apostle died, why should their writings be considered inspired and not the Science and Health, the Koran, or the Book of Mormon? What about Jesus Calling? If Jesus spoke directly to some authors, like John the Revelator, when did He stop? If God can appear in human form to Abraham, why not Joseph Smith? Or Julian of Norwich? Or St. Faustina? When did the Holy Spirit stop inspiring new Scripture?

  • María Gil

    Muchas gracias por tu aporte. Lo curioso es que según quién te hablé de la Biblia es lo que te dice. Están los ultra tradicionales que te remontan la cosa a San Agustín. Yo opino que, ya que vamos a retroceder en la historia, retrocedemos hasta la época de Jesús y listo. Sería más honesto para todos.

  • Robert LIMB

    And a lot of scholars disagree. And Jimmy Dunn on Colossians says that it doesn’t make a ha’porth of difference because the content is thoroughly pauline, even if someone else actually “ghosted” the text. In the current context of “fake news”, calling these texts, even if they were technically “pseudepigraphica”, is misleading, and just a tad irritating.

  • SkippingDog

    Interesting examination of the Pauline scriptures. My understanding is that the only thing in the Bible that invests any of Paul’s letters as “gospel” is a single reference in 2nd Peter (2 Peter 3, 15-16). Absent that endorsement, Paul’s works are merely advisory. Christianity take on a far different tone without the Pauline texts.

  • Steven Waling

    “conservative bible scholars” – now there’s an oxymoron for you.

  • Steven Waling

    The Catholic church doesn’t dispute this scholarship. So yeah thank God for them…

  • Dhammarato

    This “Bible is trash” line is so old. We know the whole thing is bogus, they’ve been teching that in seminaries since the 1960’s. Its not about old books, it is all about cash flow. Pass the place and forget the book.

  • Dhammarato

    You are totally correct. I wrote some stuff a few years ago about how Atheist should treat Christians, That will make a nice addition right after Revelations.

  • Dhammarato

    Very insightful “The stuff people argue about is mostly stuff they don’t understand.” but it is more correct to say “The stuff people argue about is ALWAYS stuff they don’t understand.” Things we know we tend to not argue over, facts are facts, but Christians argue.

  • jekylldoc

    This raises touchy issues of authority. I hope you will give some thought to that larger (?) question at some point. Chesterton’s bold distinction between the power of a rhinoceros and its lack of authority calls us to consider the nature of the Christ mystery. Some are tempted to make authority individual, so that “I” am deciding what has authority for me with no regard for what others find compelling. Others are tempted to project authority, so that institutions or texts have ultimate authority which may not be questioned. But if you ask yourself what is worth dying for, or indeed what is worth living for, you realize that authority is far deeper than either of these frameworks allows for.

  • Joshua Sonofnone

    There are legitimately credentialed Bible scholars at all points across the spectrum, from quite liberal to quite conservative, so there is nothing oxymoronic about conservative bible scholars or liberal bible scholars. I have known and studied with scholars across the entire spectrum. I disagree with the liberals and moderates, but I won’t impugn the credentials of those who have earned them. By the end of the first century AD, the church was using what we in evangelical circles use as our Bible today and the Council of Nicea only ratified what the early church was using. Many sought to write “gospels” and other works to undermine those books legitimately written under the direct inspiration of the Holy Spirit and those who did so often claimed such inspiration, but what they wrote was written to counter what the Apostles and Elders knew to be inspired by the Holy Spirit. Fake news is nothing new – the gospel is the good news and there were numerous fakes of the gospel abounding in the second and third centuries AD.

  • Sciurus_Carolinensis

    Well, you already wrote my post. I think some of my Bibles make the same provisos about the authorship of the epistles he mentions in their prefaces, although not with the detail.

  • mike4819

    “YOUR Bible’??? WTF…… Why are you here Keith old boy??……to Gloat???

  • mike4819

    Is THAT a Rainbow Flag?…………Stevie???

  • trueatheist

    Keith if you open up Eusebius you will find lengthy discussion about which books were regarded as authentic and which were rejected. This topic was of keen interest to the early church fathers as they were confronted with quite a number of books claiming divine inspiration. “One epistle of Peter, that called the first, is acknowledged as genuine. And this the ancient elders used freely in their own writings as an undisputed work. But we have learned that his extant second Epistle does not belong to the canon; yet, as it has appeared profitable to many, it has been used with the other Scriptures. The so-called Acts of Peter, however, and the Gospel which bears his name, and the Preaching and the Apocalypse, as they are called, we know have not been universally accepted, because no ecclesiastical writer, ancient or modern, has made use of testimonies drawn from them….Paul’s fourteen epistles are well known and undisputed. It is not indeed right to overlook the fact that some have rejected the Epistle to the Hebrews, saying that it is disputed by the church of Rome, on the ground that it was not written by Paul. But what has been said concerning this epistle by those who lived before our time I shall quote in the proper place. In regard to the so-called Acts of Paul, I have not found them among the undisputed writings.” Book 3.3. Your take on how the books were chosen is rather silly. Other problems with your analysis: the dating of Paul’s letters. If you assume the church was in a kind of moribund state for 40 years from say AD30 then sure it doesn’t make sense when you see late first century heresies mentioned in Paul’s letters. The question is, when were Paul’s letters written? And when did Paul preach? You also need to consider that religions evolve rapidly in their early years as Christianity did, for example moving from a Jewish sect to a Gentile sect in a very short space of time. You need to sort out those problems before you jettison what are undoubtedly genuine letters and great evidence for the study of the early church. And by the way why do reject the Epistle of Paul’s co-worker Barnabas? This letter was also regarded as genuine by the early church, and has much to teach us about that institution.

  • Steven Waling

    I’m afraid I came to my rather jaundiced opinion from having to read the books & essays of these conservative ‘scholars’. Apart from the special pleading, appeals to authority and to ‘miracles’ every time a real difficulty came up, what struck me most forceably about all of them was how defensive they all were. The Fortress of Scripture & Tradition had to be defended at all costs against the ‘attack’ of the liberals. The fact that quite often their arguments were frankly garbled and confused didn’t seem to bother them as long as their fortress was defended. I suspect if it was bad in the early ’80’s it hasn’t got much better now.

  • Javier Gonzalez

    So, we are being told to abide in Christ and search only for Him, but you would have us believe a myriad of scholars, each with their own bias and subjective points of view. That’s an incredible contradiction in terms. You quote John 5:39, 40 using the very Bible to somehow support your point of “Christ alone” and yet you leave out the context of that verse. You also leave out a very important part of the verse which states- “These are the scriptures that testify of me…” Christ himself points to the scriptures as a means to prove that He is who He says He is and is pointing out the ignorance of those who study so diligently and miss the mark. Truly ironic in light of this opinion piece. It is in the scriptures that we find Christ and learn of Him. Old and New Testament.

    On the road to Emmaus, Christ opens the OT to the men he is walking with to prove to them that He is the one they’ve been waiting for. In doubting the scriptures, we doubt the one who gave them to us. That’s quite a position to take based only on human opinion and conjecture of so-called “scholars.” In John 17, Christ prays and declares, “this is life eternal, to know you, the only true God and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” We come to know Him through His word and testimony, the scriptures, not the words of a few men in robes separated by thousands of years from the words written giving their spurious opinions.

  • billwald

    “How did these fake letters from Peter and Paul end up in our Bibles?”

    It was a standard and acceptable practice in the first century after the death of a religious leader (and, I suppose, philosophical leaders) for their disciples to write using the name of the dead person. Logically, it wasn’t a dishonest practice because the followers who read the letters knew their leader was dead.

    This is still a practice in this century. For example, when biographers and historians use undocumented statements claimed to be made by long dead people are “quoted.”

  • billwald

    The inclusion of undocumented material in our Bible must be assumed to have been approved by the Holy Spirit else the entire Torah is fiction.

  • corky

    Why are there no contemporary records then of Jesus

  • Contemporary records of Jesus? My point is that, if we had no written record, then we still could have had an oral tradition. The oral tradition held the people of Israel in their faith long before writing became a thing.

  • soter phile

    10 Basic Facts about the NT Canon that every Christian Should Memorize by Dr. Michael J Kruger

    #1: “The New Testament Books are the Earliest Christian Writings We Possess”
    #2: “Apocryphal Writings are All Written in the Second Century or Later”
    #3: “The New Testament Books Are Unique Because They Are Apostolic Books”
    #4: “Some NT Writers Quote Other NT Writers as Scripture”
    #5: “The Four Gospels are Well Established by the End of the Second Century”
    #6: “At the End of the Second Century, the Muratorian Fragment lists 22 of our 27 NT books”
    #7: “Early Christians Often Used Non-Canonical Writings”
    #8: “The NT Canon Was Not Decided at Nicea—Nor Any Other Church Council”
    #9: “Christians Did Disagree about the Canonicity of Some NT Books”
    #10 “Early Christians Believed that Canonical Books were Self-Authenticating.”

    Each fact has a linked article which can be found here:

    This NT scholar calls out many of Keith’s more provocative (oft-repeated) claims.
    For example, the Muratorian Canon (c.180 AD) lists 22 of 27 NT letters – including all 13 of Paul’s epistles.

  • soter phile

    Yes, you wouldn’t even know his name.
    Never mind that no one quoted the OT Scriptures more than Jesus.
    Or that the NT Church chose to retain the supposedly useless ‘old letters’ you want to cast away.

  • soter phile

    Read Richard Bauckham’s Jesus & the Eyewitnesses. He engages the scholarship and demonstrates the Gospels are eyewitness accounts.

  • soter phile

    So basically you dismissed Metzger’s higher view of the authority of Scripture in favor of a subjectivism unsubstantiated by the Holy Spirit (i.e., Metzger’s ‘consensus within the churches’ criterion)?

    You basically said: “I listen to my own inner voice regardless of what the Bible says – I don’t like some of the stuff that God says.” As Karl Barth noted: that’s a god of self-projection. Feuerbach would have a field day.

  • soter phile

    Read Bruce Metzger, the New Testament: Its Background, Growth, and Content.
    He’s widely regarded as the greatest NT scholar of the last generation (he had 11 different versions of the Greek NT in his head). And he dispels all this tripe Keith is promoting.

    In the most basic sense neither individuals nor councils created the canon; instead they came to recognize and acknowledge the self-authenticating quality of these writings, which imposed themselves as canonical upon the church. – Bruce Metzger

  • Thank you for the Metzger reference. I appreciate that!

  • fractal

    Sufis laugh at this nonsense.

    Whatever inspires us to grow spiritually, is valid—we just don’t CARE who wrote it.
    We don’t care what book the inspirations are contained in.
    We don’t even care if a demon said it!
    All of us are growing at different rates spiritually, and have different paths to walk.

    The proof is in the pudding—how you conduct yourself shows what your real beliefs are, not which name you put on God, or which “holy book” you keep under your pillow at night.

  • fractal

    “must be assumed”

    Famous last words of the ignorant…

  • fractal

    In other words—

    Let’s ignore the facts because it doesn’t agree with Joshua’s politics…

  • fractal

    I have to agree.

    The pretzels that fundamentalists twist themselves into, in order to justify their belief systems, is hilarious.
    They would be laughed out of any LOGIC 202 class in their local community college.

  • fractal

    Ya got a problem with Steve’s comment?
    Then talk about the comment.

    Only the very insecure would stoop as low as you, to try and discredit someone.
    You sure don’t write like a good Christian.

  • Andris Stanga

    Because the apostles in the New Testament are long dead does not mean that the ministry of apostle finished. It is more accepted that it continues and that there are apostles through all the years since and even today.
    I am more intrigued at why nothing written since the 2nd century has been accepted as ‘scripture.’ I see no justification for declaring the work of scripture writing as finished forever. I do realise that the Catholics emphasised those verses at the end of Revelations (about not adding or subtracting from the book) as a way to insinuate the idea that the canon of scripture cannot be added to. This does not seem to have been challenged in the church since. Yet surely that statement refers only internally to the book of Revelations? And besides, a one-volume bible…. this was never one book and it is the false idea of some in the church that it is one book.
    just a few extra thoughts for my tuppence worth…

  • Andris Stanga

    Isn’t self-authenticating just circular logic? I mean, would you let me perform brain surgery on you if you learned that I had self-authenticated myself to be qualified to do that job?
    Sorry, but I have heard that argument quite often, and I am puzzled by the obvious cognitive dissonance in it.

  • Andris Stanga

    What has all of this got to do with the letters that were being discussed in the article?
    The point was that some came from sources other than what people think, and not that they are worthless. Or did I miss something? But from this it appears you imply a lot more was said than was said. A common mistake by someone who doesn’t like to see such questions faced with an open mind.

  • Jon Xavier

    Of course, such speculations may be true. But the real reason that there is doubt is because critical scholars have a hard time believing that some ancient person could possibly be more creative than they are. However, when you read some of these scholars, it really shouldn’t be so hard to imagine. Indeed, inspiration or spirituality are hardly the first words that comes to mind. And yet, that’s exactly what we’re talking about with these letters. They’re highly inspired, creative, and there is always some appeal to the work of the Holy Spirit.

    Secondly, when we’re talking about some something like the book of Ephesians or the Pastoral Letters, the claim of a highly institutionalized Church to justify them is highly unwarranted. For example, not only did Judaism have the great Sanhedrin in Jerusalem, it also had lesser Sanhedrins in many cities. And it seems clear that Christianity pattern after this, as it did many things regarding Judaism, from its earliest days. But I’ve yet to read a critical scholar who seems to understand Judaism much at all who is also commenting on the letters in this way. Thus, It’s always important to keep in mind that critical scholars usually have specialties and are not so well informed in all relevant areas.

    Finally, it’s also quite an eye-opener to realize how much critical scholars actually disagree with each other on more points than they tend to agree on. And that’s the problem when human beings approach spiritual texts like scripture from the perspective of reason alone. You simply come to the text with nothing but your biases which can vary greatly within a single community. And you end up with endless contradictions that you nonetheless try to support and claim as authoritative. This is a problem the church should have caught on to by now. scholars have to publish you make a name for themselves. But off in their self-interests often seem to trump the interests of the Church.

    To be clear, I’m not at all against such scholarship. In the main, I think there’s much contributed. At the same time, it’s obvious limits have to be observed so that nearly all the far reaching conclusions that are made must be held tenuously, understood speculatively, rather than dogmatically.

    That’s what all genuine, honest, and respectable intellectuals do.

  • Andris Stanga

    In my experience, conservative scholars only accept or consider as worthy the research done by other conservative Christian scholars. And thus also become very dismissive of genuine scholarly research by less conservative scholars or by other academic institutions who have all with good faith wanted to research and find out the truth.
    It’s not from a desire to rubbish the bible or rubbish our faith, just a desire for truth. And as the books of the bible are sometimes self-contradictory, or contradict each other, to simply make them the only absolute truth is simply laughable. As has been said – if you have many witnesses broadly in agreement on the main subject, the case is proven. But if one witness contradicts himself, all of his evidence is thrown out of court. So it is evident that, at the very least, we do not consider the canon of scripture as a monolithic whole, or else the self-evident contradictions would cause the whole to be worthless.
    Whether you agree with the above article or not is pointless in this regard. Rather it is that we need to be open to the realisation that any of the books of the canon reveal their humanity, however divinely inspired. And that it is from this humanity that the contradictions arise.
    But authorship itself is not going to change whether a book or letter is useful for teaching or not surely? And that was not the argument being presented here. Rather, that being full of the spirit and seeking Christ first, we can then be more sensitive to the message for us no matter the author. And isn’t that how Jesus himself taught us to read scripture – saying that he who reads needs to read in spirit and truth (or can be translated ‘in the spirit of truth’) and in context meaning that the presence of the Holy Spirit, to be involved in the learning, is vital to prevent understanding being mere nonsense.
    Even taking the most self-authenticating verse, 2 Timothy 3:16, this is the most obviously wrongly applied by most Christians. For it is clearly evident that this could only refer to those scriptures that trained rabbis (which Paul was, having been a member of the Sanhedrin) would use. Not least because there was no “bible” in existence at that time, only the Hebrew scriptures. So this certainly does not refer to anything in the New Testament, and is a sign that it is certainly a Jew writing here, who would know of their tradition of ‘ruach’ being involved in the bringing of the words of God to the writers.

  • Roach Scientist

    Marcion believed in two gods. His Conan rejected the entire Old Testament, three Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and John), and had only 11 books in his canon, including several epistles questioned by Mr. Giles. I wouldn’t use Marcion’s canon as proof of anything.

  • “…differences in style and vocabulary…”
    “The language and style are different…”
    “…linguistic similarity..”
    “The vocabulary and phraseology used…”
    “The language, dating, style, and structure…”
    “There are significant linguistic differences…”
    The reasons stated for denying the authenticity of certain epistles are thin and you just copied them from scholars, critical scholars and sharply divided scholars. The better question is why you feel that scholars (men) 2000 years from the subject have any better idea of how to interpret the epistles than you do when you say’
    “What we have to do is to learn how to abide in Christ and to know the voice of the Good Shepherd so clearly that we know inspired truth when we hear it, regardless of where it comes from.” They don’t and they never will. There are reasons behind the authenticity claims that have nothing to do with writing styles.

  • Cynthia Brown Christ

    Black and white thinking is also for the ignorant.

    There is no methodology that says if one book is not inspired by the Holy Spirit, all books are invalid.

    There is nothing black and white about scripture. If it were easy there wouldn’t be so much argumentation, and divisions into different or non denominations.

  • Lark62

    500 years from now, people using textual analysis could accurately determine whether Hamlet and Huck Finn had the same author.

    This is not because of contempt for either British playwrights or American novelists, but because of evidence.

  • Marina

    The Bible itself, at least in the more accurate translations, and I’m not advocating just one; but… ummm… this is a totally transparent fact. Is this actually NEWS to anyone who reads the Bible thoroughly? If it is, then there is obviously a huge problem here. And the reason why so much of which is ascribed to “it’s in the Bible!” by most Christians, really isn’t? Ya gotta actually read it in depth and understand the symbolism and complexity, guys! Please. Because if you don’t understand that part, you are actually spreading “fake news” of the worst kind.

  • John Purssey

    I expect rabbis, such as Hillel, would have quoted scriptures just as much.

  • PhillipWynn

    Two things. First, the selection of the canon wasn’t quite as random as the author makes it. One great counter to the idea that it was opinion or chance is the appearance of Luke-Acts. It’s impossible to prove this, but I’m convinced Luke-Acts got into the canon because of all the Gospels that may have been floating around then, Luke-Acts most resembled the contemporary works of Greco-Roman historiography; there is certainly more historical detail in Luke-Acts than in the others.

    Second, when the author writes “late second and third centuries” the impression is left that this is the date of the pseudepigrapha being discussed, meaning a date as late as about 300. This is simply not true, acc. to what I know of the scholarship, which dates the latest of them no later than the early to mid-second century.

    Meaning, although we’re free, of course, to shade our perception of authoritativeness, whatever that means, according to the “authenticity” of a particular work, they still remain artifacts of the early church, about which we know precious little, after about 70 or so, until the late second century. If that matters to anyone.

  • PhillipWynn

    It does seem that way. Besides, in at least one case, Luke-Acts, there are potential rational considerations that don’t fit the model of “self-authenticating”.

    On the other hand, I also agree with those who say about all this, So what?

  • John Purssey

    Ultimately, a person has to decide what makes most sense from scholars, interpreters, institutions and texts. Scholars provide a range of incompatible opinions. The Roman Catholic church claims to provide the correct interpretations, but many Catholics hold different views from the official Catholic positions. A text cannot be understood apart from interpretation, though some imagine that they can identify the correct interpretation.

  • PhillipWynn

    And perhaps nowadays we need better atheists. “Fraud” implies malicious intent. It’s arguable (and makes no sense, in the end, to argue) as to whether the pseudepigrapha were written with malicious intent. That might be the case if they advocated something the rest of the canon doesn’t. And although there are arguably differences in the pseudepigrapha from the rest of the NT (e.g., stronger emphasis on patriarchy?), nothing extraordinarily different stands out, with the possible exception of the Apocalypse, about which there’s been disagreement from the get-go.

    Meaning, that even if a writer assumes the name of an early Christian worthy, there’s no “Bwa ha ha!” malicious intent involved. Hence, no deliberate fraudulent intent.

    On the other hand, if you as an atheist think the ENTIRE NT is “fraud and error”, then why bother picking on the pseudepigrapha? They don’t prove your point, because if you accept they are pseudepigrapha, then the rest of the NT is NOT by that alone full of “fraud and error”; that last point has to be argued on other grounds.

  • John Purssey

    I would have thought that if anything was self-authenticating then there would be no need to state it.

    The US declaration of independence suffers from the same internal contradiction over what it considers to be self-evident.

  • PhillipWynn

    Sorry, but I find your history problematic. To boil down your argument, you seem to me to be saying that there’s some primary “orthodoxy” existing from the beginning, an orthodoxy that excluded certain works from the NT canon. But if we go to Eusebius, what becomes clear is that the establishment of a canon WAS ITSELF PART OF ESTABLISHING ORTHODOXY. So, you kinda have it backwards.

    Yes, I know many, Protestants and Catholics alike, want to believe in such a tradition going back to the beginning. And there are certainly elements of that, e.g. the Lord’s Prayer, and the Eucharist. But as to the canon …

    Finally, your statement that the church was already in possession of the same canon we have today at the end of the first century is simply wrong. As others here point out, the Muratorian canon of the late second century is a good fit for the current NT canon, but not exactly. And when we look at the historical context of that canon, it becomes clear, once again, that it was set up to exclude that which was then beginning to be seen as heretical. Their current circumstances drove decisions, and not simply, and mindlessly, the weight of a supposed already fully articulated orthodoxy.

  • Chari McCauley

    The Ten “laws” written in stone were universal. Don’t lie, cheat and steal, murder is a theft of life that is not your to take applied to all.

    It included all parents (fathers and mothers, because they would teach the young to follow the same rules.) We keep ignoring these rules and we have NO trust, because we ignore these ten (10) rules hand-written by The Father of The Man, Who went to the cross.

  • Chari McCauley

    So, what’s your point?

  • jekylldoc

    I am sorry to see the texts treated like legal texts. It often seems that the soaring, and searing, passages are brusquely by-passed for being too obvious and not needing sufficient scholarly input, while dreary Levitical admonitions are sweated and argued over as if they could change a single thing on earth.

    The authority of the deepest roots of scripture comes not from imposition or choice, either one. If one is not grasped and shaken by the passage, no declaration from others will make it happen.

  • Jim Shell

    What a load of garbage in this rehash of old heresy disguised as “new scholarly discoveries”.

  • Chuck Johnson

    The Bible is full of fraud.
    The Catholic church is full of fraud.
    Moving pedophile priests to new locations, telling lies, and all of the other machinations involved are fraud.

    But this is Christianity, and it is fraud done with no malicious intent.
    No matter how deliberately deceitful the Catholic church has been, there will be Catholics who know (deep in their hearts) that such fraud is what God really wants and needs to accomplish His mysterious ways.

    There seems to be no level of hate, malice, genocide or torture that cannot be justified as “benevolent” when religious fanaticism is involved.

    Some Christians regularly practice fraud with benevolent intentions.
    George Orwell understood such doublethink.

  • PhillipWynn

    Webster says: “fraud: deceit, trickery, sharp practice, or breach of confidence, perpetrated for profit or to gain some unfair or dishonest advantage.”

    Exactly how, under this definition, are either the writing of the Sermon on the Mount, or a Christian’s attempt to live by its teachings, fraudulent?

  • Chuck Johnson

    If we would analyze the Sermon on the Mount, or a Christian’s attempt, then we might find no fraud.
    But since miracles are involved, we might find plenty of gullibility and ignorance involved.

    But then, if you believe in miracles and other religious magic, you Phillip, might be blind to the gullibility and ignorance as well.

    There is a continuous spectrum of wrong thinking from childlike innocence and gullibility up to the most outrageous frauds perpetrated for political and religious goals.

  • PhillipWynn

    Miracles are not involved in the Sermon on the Mount. Read it if you don’t believe me.

    At the “better” end of your spectrum of “wrong thinking” you generously mark folks as displaying “childlike innocence and gullibility”. And since you (incorrectly) think miracles are part of the Sermon on the Mount, and that people who accept as authoritative the Sermon on the Mount and try to live by it are by that — believing in the miracles that are (actually not) in the Sermon on the Mount — gullible and ignorant, therefore …

    I take it that Christians who try to live up to the Sermon on the Mount are by your argument gullible and ignorant.

    Or is this not what you are saying?

  • Corey Miller

    It’s interesting that at one point the blogger argues Ephesians isn’t written by Paul because it uses new words, and then at another point, the blogger argues it isn’t written by Paul because it is using all the words in other epistles written before. He’s no sooner questioning it because it is unoriginal, after questioning it because it isn’t. Hopefully, this isn’t Patheos’ crowning tour de force against Pauline authorship.

  • Dustin

    “No one knows who wrote either 1 Peter or 2 Peter, but the one thing every scholar agrees on is this: It wasn’t the Apostle Peter.”

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHA this is a good one!

  • Andrew Erwin

    Not sure how you get from “not written by Paul” to “fake scripture” logically. I mean, the maniscripts we have access to are only copies anyway… Writing was expensive in those days. Purchasing the papyrus and ink would generally cost a month’s salary. Paul was in prison and wasn’t likely given the materials.

    This is very elementary work. It is not sourced and doesn’t seem well researched. You do make some valid (though 100 level) points, but your conclusions are not logically coherent.

  • Sorry Keith, this is not universally accepted among scholars, actually the haupt breife argument and the appeal to Marcion is quite dated thinking. This is more a red meat for those who already agree with you post than anything else.

  • In the introduction section of Hoehner’s encyclopedic exegetical commentary on Ephesians he does a masterful job of arguing for Pauline authorship by citing critical scholars savaging one another’s positions until they are all thoroughly untenable.

  • Kyllein MacKellerann “

    IF – you look at the historical Bible as a Political, rather than Religious, document, things make sense. The original Constantine Bible was composed to keep the Plebeians quiet by saying that God intended them to be low and the Aristocrats of the Eastern Roman Empire, high, it all makes sense.
    Under such an intent, any number of spurious “Gospels” and “Letters” would be introduced into the narrative to support the Status Quo. After all, back then who would really know what was genuine and what was propaganda?
    And this isn’t the only time the Bible has been “edited” to support the “Party in Power.”

  • Ron Fay

    Quick notes on Peter: if you think Peter was an uneducated fisher “dude,” then you have not read anything scholarly on the first century world written in the last 20+ years. Peter was one of the rare middle class, owned at least two homes, definitely spoke Greek and could read and write it (contracts for fishermen were in Greek since they sold the fish primarily to Greek speaking peoples), and he likely had a decent amount of money, as did his family. Please read some recent scholarship on these issues, such as Schnabel’s “Early Christian Mission” volume 1. That Peter had money and could read/speak Greek is not really contested in scholarship anymore.

  • Inquirer

    Hi Vance,
    Would you please unblock me?
    Second try.

  • Chuck Johnson

    The Sermon On The Mount is loaded with miraculous teachings.
    Jesus is presented as a miraculous person.

    You have a brain that filters these things out.

  • Chuck Johnson

    I take it that Christians who try to live up to the Sermon on the Mount are by your argument gullible and ignorant.

    Blind obedience to supernatural authority comes from gullibility and ignorance.

    To get the best value and understanding from any superstition-based text, it is best to remove the superstition and then examine what is left.

    Short-term, religion and superstitions can be imagined to be harmless. In the long run however, superstitions really do harm to societies.

    Religions belong in the past, and they are disappearing in the industrialized world, including in the USA.

    The youngest people in the USA are the ones who are least religious.

  • PhillipWynn

    The Sermon on the Mount. Matthew 5:1-7:27. No miracles in it.

    If you have a brain that filters them in that section, please filter down to the miracles for me, cuz I don’t see ’em, cuz they ain’t there.

  • PhillipWynn

    But there ain’t none of that fancy pants superstition based stuff IN the Sermon on the Mount. Except for Jesus talkin’ about God.

    But if your beef is there ain’t no God, tell me: How in the world can you, or any other atheist, use the Bible, which assumes there is, to prove there ain’t?

    I know, I know, some of the stuff is unbelievable. But if I concede the Bible isn’t consistent, even in how it portrays God, do you just pick on the unbelievable stuff? If some of it IS believable, how much? And, if enough of the Bible IS believable, then aren’t you cherry-picking by going to the unbelievable parts, then saying they invalidate the whole thing? And why, for you, does the Bible HAVE to be consistent, else it’s all bull? Even many believers don’t believe that. And how could you expect something to be consistent that was written over a thousand year period?

  • PhillipWynn

    Total nonsense. Original Constantine Bible? What is that?

    Muratorian canon of the New Testament, c. 180. Christianity then an illegal cult, subject to intermittent persecution. How are they then the “party in power”?

  • Chuck Johnson

    And why, for you, does the Bible HAVE to be consistent, else it’s all bull? Even many believers don’t believe that. And how could you expect something to be consistent that was written over a thousand year period?

    The content of the Bible is useful to study the psychology, sociology, religions, social customs, and other aspects of ancient peoples. Also their ancient moral beliefs.

    The parts that are false are the supernatural claims.
    You apparently would have to do considerable study to even know what a supernatural claim is. Apparently, your Christian beliefs have blinded you to the presence of supernatural claims in the Bible. The Sermon on the Mount is loaded with them.

    So using the lens of science, we first discount the supernatural claims as being false. Those supernatural claims aren’t useless, however. They help us to understand the ancient peoples who invented them.

    Then, the rest of the advice and information in the Sermon on the Mount should be examined for its content of useful information for the ancient peoples and useful information for modern humans.

    It’s a resource of valuable information on many levels.

  • Jerry Shepherd

    The good news is that Giles didn’t make it up. The bad news is that it was in fact made up. It has no historical credibility.

  • John Gills

    You’re probably already aware of Lucy Peppiatt, but If not – in your copious spare time – I fervently recommend you read an 88 page monograph by Dr. Peppiatt titled Unveiling Paul’s Women in which she argues powerfully and convincingly that the misogynistic verses of 1 Corinthians 1:2-16 are neither Paul’s thoughts nor his words, but are an interpolation of the words of the elders of the church in Corinth which Paul then refutes.
    Dr. Peppiatt’s last sentence is, “It means that Paul begins and ends his section on public worship by addressing oppression, suppression and silencing of women and coming out as strongly as possible against it.”
    What a marvelous reinterpretation!

  • PhillipWynn

    You still haven’t given even one specific example of anything in Matthew 5:1-7:27 (the Sermon on the Mount) that is a miracle, and have resorted to personal insult instead, a clear sign that you recognize you’ve lost the argument. Thanks for playing!

  • Lyndon Unger


    That’s actually all I have to say.

  • Chuck Johnson

    Stop pretending that you have been personally insulted.
    Yours is the politics of insult and deceit.

    The Sermon has hardly begun before a miracle is asserted:
    Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

  • LastManOnEarth


  • PhillipWynn

    You cited Matt.5:3: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” as an example of a miracle. As the youth say nowadays, FAIL! Or, you could also say, a stretch worthy of Procrustes.

    Good Wikipedia article on the verse, comparing it with the parallel in Luke 6:20, which merely said, “Blessed are the poor.” The Wikipedia article tends to the reasonable conclusion that whether original or not, the intended meaning refers to those who aren’t caught up in the pursuit of money; “poor” in spirit thus refers to such a poverty, regardless of how much material wealth is involved.

    You could gag at “the kingdom of heaven”, but it’s clear from elsewhere in the Gospels this DOES NOT equal heaven. Besides, even if it does mean heaven, believing in a miraculous and non-existent thing is not a miracle.

    Repeat: FAIL. Keep reading, maybe you’ll come up with something a little more relevant to, you know, actual miracles.

  • Adam “Giauz” Birkholtz

    Jesus apparently can’t talk.

  • Chuck Johnson

    Heaven is a miraculous venue.

    I am not interested in your lies or your special pleading.

  • Thela Ginjeet

    ”In other words, the New Testament you’re holding contains “scriptures” that are
    about as reliable as The Gospel of Thomas…”

    This is a misleading assertion and a blatant one-sided display of anachronistic higher criticism dogma. This article seems to take great glee in implying a negative value judgment as to the integrity and acceptability of the NT letters in question. These kinds of arguments falsely claim that the letters are outright forgeries intended to deceive…and that is a position lacking in sound Biblical scholarship and research. Many of the NT writings are anonymous, the synoptic Gospels for example, but that bears on no point of principle about their inclusion in the NT.

    The most appropriate context to discuss the issue of NT pseudonymity is that of authoritative tradition, the process in Jewish religious writing whereby tradition has accrued to a prominent historical figure. Very few scholars would seriously dispute the consensus that the five books of Moses is the result of a lengthy tradition process stretching over several centuries undergoing expansion and elaboration in continuity with teaching clearly
    originating with Moses and attributing its authority and character to him…this process is certainly not regarded as illegitimate or deceitful, but is understood as a restatement of the tradition the Jewish community recognized as the “Law of Moses.” The same with “The Prophets” and “The Writings” in that after a while the tradition became fixed and later elaborations were offered as commentary.

    There is a definite parallel between the development of the Gospels and that of the Pentateuch. It is equally plausible that the later Pastoral Epistles attributed to Paul were written by associates or disciples of Paul who could legitimately write in his name as a claim to represent Paul’s counsel in the face of new challenges confronting a new generation of believers. There is no way to adjudicate whether these letters incorporate brief notes from Paul while
    he was in prison. However, literary authorship was less important to their intended readers than their Pauline character and their attribution to Paul as
    a claim to authoritative tradition…not literary origins. They reflect a Pauline tradition that was already solidifying into “sound teaching” and recognized by
    the emerging church as legitimate.

    It is a false dichotomy to press the letters into an either/or question of pseudepigraphy or canonicity. Unlike Islam’s Koran, the Bible is not regarded as a direct revelation from the very finger of God. On the contrary, it is a human testimony to the revelation of God. The church has received these letters and canonized them upon reasonable foundations in that the Biblical canon is validated not through the work of any human, but by God’s
    grace. The making of the canon required a long period of time and involved a complex historical process. The universal church has always held the conviction that, despite the involvement of human agency in the production, collection, and preservation of the books of the NT, God has vouchsafed their authenticity and authority. If one compares say, Hebrews with the Epistle of Barnabas, the former attributed to Paul and the latter attributed to a companion of Paul, it becomes quite clear why the church was persuaded to include the one and reject the other. The choice was not arbitrary. The generations following the apostles gave witness to the effect certain writings had on their own their faith, life, and liturgy…the authoritative word was not found in the contemporary writings church leaders, but in the apostolic testimony preserved in specific early Christian writings, and in this sense the church did not create the canon…but came to recognize, accept, and affirm the self-authenticating nature of certain documents that impressed themselves as such upon the church.

    The early church communities did not need some official stamp of approval from some council or synod on certain books to tell it what it already
    knew by means of the inner witness of the Holy Spirit. The early church bequeathed to later generations of Christians a clear and balanced perception of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and made sure we had the best sources for its history and proclamation.

  • Nimblewill

    What difference does any of this make if we are not following Jesus?


    Of course pseudepigrapha is in the Bible, otherwise John 1:3 would not be true. Get a grip.

  • Martin Kirchhoff

    Hello , is this a discussion about the Bible ? Martin Kirchhoff from Germany …by the way, do you know the meaning of the letter “t” in the word “religion “? “t” like TRUTH.

  • Yawn. Nothing new. This was discussed and debated since the 200s. Read the Church Fathers.

  • orion dumptee

    who wrote peter and paul ? thats easy….Anyone that could’nt CALL ha ha ha

  • AntithiChrist

    The Timothy letters are fake??!

    That’s unfortunate. My mom, pretty devout believer, she, went to her grave believing that Paul was misogynistic POS.

    This might have helped him. A little.

    Love the bits about the church leaders “voting” on which books to keep, and which to burn. (More of a Freudian slip than a pun, there).

    Of course once the orthodox burning started, it never really stopped, did it? Neither the books nor the witches. See “Alexandria,” “Holy Inquisition,” “Joan of Arc,” etc.

  • Kitchenman

    The argument by the author is reduced to self glorification. Let’s first realize the best test was waiting for God to move. Either in their souls or by brushing papers to the floor, metaphorical or physically. if you don’t believe either happened, your not in touch with CHRIST !✅

  • Kitchenman

    He talks. But the atheist will not listen

  • Kitchenman

    Your. It considering the word origins and norms of the day. Na’ra Research it

  • Adam “Giauz” Birkholtz

    You wouldn’t need to claim a God talks if they actually do talk.

  • Rob

    “Scholars” laughable if not so tragic….Did Satan Himself write this op?

  • Milo C

    You have a great point; at any time someone could be inspired to write a new Gospel, and there isn’t a way to tell that they weren’t inspired. Likewise, there is no way to tell if the books of the Bible are actually inspired. They could entirely be pleasant lies, couched in good (and sometimes bad) morality.

  • Jane Ravenswood

    since Christians all claim “Christ alone” and don’t agree on what this god wants, what is moral, how one is saved, just which of you shall we believe?

  • fractal

    That is not a miracle; that is an assertion—any college professor would give you an F for that statement.
    But trust Christians to twist themselves into a pretzel, trying to justify their fantasy POV…

  • fractal

    “teachings” are not miraculous.
    Just stop the hype and quit assigning your own definitions to suit your fancy.

  • fractal


    I don’t get it; what is your point?

  • David

    Question: On one hand you state in # 1 “The language and style are different. Ephesians contains 40 new words, e.g. 1:3 “heavenly places”; “family, or fatherhood” (3:15). 1:19 has four different words for “power”
    Yet you also state in #3
    Ephesians is similar to Colossians at many places. Eph has 155 verses, 73 of which are similar to ones from Col: e.g. Eph 4:1-2 ≈ Col 3:12-13, Eph 5:19-20 ≈ Col 3:16-17, Eph 6:21-22 ≈ Col 4:7-8.
    So is similarity or differentiation the problem?

  • Chuck Johnson

    Follow the conversation.

  • Chuck Johnson

    You are lying.

  • Chuck Johnson

    I give you an F for dishonesty.

  • jimvj

    The ill-defined phrase “early Christians” is the escape hatch in these “facts”.
    The most indisputable fact about the “Bible” is that NONE of the founders of Christianity (Jesus, the 12(?) apostles, Paul/Saul, & even the anonymous gospel writers) had ANY CONCEPT OF A BIBLE.

    Here BIBLE = a canonical set of texts.
    So all this verbiage is just flailing distraction by believers.
    Look up Marcion for the first time a canonical set was proposed;
    you’ll find it does not resemble any of today’s Christian Bible’s.
    And yes, there is disagreement among Christians about what is canonical.

  • Clement Agonistes

    When you get right down to it, we can’t really prove that Paul wrote ANY of the letters . . . . . or that “Paul” actually existed. We accept that Paul existed and that a core of letters were legitimately his. No matter how you cut it, at some point even the most cynical among us are going to accept SOMETHING on faith

    Unquestionably, Paul used a secretary to write the main body of his letters – he says so. As to how much discretion they had, we cannot know. On one extreme, they were taking dictation from Paul and wrote what he said verbatim. On another extreme, Paul had been discussing these issues with the secretary for some time, and finally said, “Why don’t we send them a letter – write out something based on what we’ve been discussing and I’ll sign off on it.” Paul seemed to have an entourage that changed from time to time. Heck, modern college professors have been signing their names to their students’ work for decades, if not centuries. That could certainly account for variation in style or word choice.

    Likewise, both Peter and John would have been using secretaries. Neither would have been fluent in Greek – the language of their audiences. Legend has it that Mark had been Peter’s translator for years, and the Gospel attributed to Mark was Peter’s story. That would be one example of someone with apostolic authority who would have had intimate familiarity with the thoughts of an Apostle. As you pointed out, is the author was writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, then the human isn’t really the point anyway.

    The books that made the canon had to have a tie to an Apostle. They also had to harmonize with other, less-dubious, books. While we could certainly nit-pick some details, these books at issue harmonize well with similar topics in books we are confident of. No one is losing sleep over these issues.

    And, yes, Christ should be our focus, but people “hear” Christ saying some pretty weird stuff sometimes. If I hear Christ (the Holy Spirit?) AND it harmonizes with what I read in the Bible, that’s a tough combination to beat.

  • Clement Agonistes

    I’m with PhillipWynn here – your version is an urban legend account of history, out-of-synch with contemporaneous accounts.

  • Linnea912

    Yep.I learned this in my “Introduction to the Bible” class, during my freshman year at Luther College.

  • fractal

    Is that REALLY the best ya got?

  • fractal

    I am with your mom!
    Paul the Fanatic was way too Butch before his conversion.
    It seems Jesus might have saved his soul, but did nothing for his personality.

  • fractal


  • woodrow hall

    who cares..great book..1611 kjv…dont really need the torah since were under the new covenant

  • Ron Swaren

    It’s hard to know all of the things that Jesus said. (John 21:25) so we are kind of steering by blind faith anyway. The Old Testament, also, according to textual criticism, was written (or edited) long after the fact.

    But, just like in those days, you can always jump on the latest political movement.

  • TXGunner1

    “Personally, I don’t know who wrote Ephesians or Colossians, but I can affirm that whoever did so was quite inspired by the Holy Spirit and very much enlightened as to the nature and character of Christ.”

    Actually anyone who is a believer can claim divine inspiration, but that does not mean that is a literal translation of some deities message. I don’t believe anything is and there is no way to prove that it is. Or isn’t, but I am not making the claim that it isn’t, just that I do not believe it. As always, the burden of proof is on the person who is making a positive claim.

  • andrewlohr

    ‘Gospel’ of Thomas #114: “For every woman who will make herself male will enter the kingdom of heaven.” People, even with PhDs, who take such hogwash seriously are not just unbelievers or heretics but idiots. Quite a difference between that and 2 Peter, the most challenged NT book (on which read my friend Peter Leithart’s short intro).

    Similarities between what we agree Paul wrote, and what’s argued about, are reason to doubt what was argued about? Seriously?

    Motives don’t establish facts (C.S.Lewis on “Bulverism”), but if I wanted out of the institutional church (and I do esteem Jim Rutz’s critiques), I sure would have a motive to question NT books that presuppose institutions.

  • Matt Cavanaugh

    …the good news is that we do have seven undisputed letters from Paul that were accepted and included in nearly every early Christian canon, including the first by Marcion.

    The authenticity of those seven epistles is most definitely disputed among theologians and philologists, and has been for nearly two centuries. FC Baur first proposed in 1845 that only four, Romans, Galatians, 1 & 2 Corinthians (the so-called Hauptbriefe,) were authentic. Soon thereafter, Bruno Bauer argued that none were, a position that quickly gained adherents in the 19th century and has most recently been reiterated by theologian and pastor, Hermann Detering, in his Paulusbriefe Ohne Paul? and The Fabricated Paul.

    Even more scholars, who accept an authentic Pauline core to the seven so-called ’undisputed’ epistles, nevertheless recognize the received texts as pastiches with signs of multiple layers of redaction added by competing sects. This was first documented by Pierson and Naber in 1886 and has been expanded on by numerous scholars since. Romans, in particular, is widely recognized as a patchwork of several, originally disparate, documents and containing at least three endings. (cf. Bultmann, Goodspeed, van Manen, et al.)

    Numerous anachronisms throughout have been catalogued in both linguistics and content. The conflict with 2nd Century gnosticism is found not just in Colossians but in several ‘undisputed’ epistles, as Schmithals, Weiss and others have identified. The interdependency between Galatians and Acts is almost universally recognized. Whether Acts merely drew on a much older epistle, or whether Galatians in part reflects a contemporary, Marcionite response to the sect which produced Acts, remains in dispute. The same question is raised regarding 1 Corinthians, given its Luke-Acts parallels. That Philippians contains deutero-pauline passages has been observed by Schmithals and Doughty. Why Paul writes of his eagerness to meet the church in Rome which he supposedly founded, has never been adequately explained.

    Van den Bergh van Eysinga first observed in 1912 what is widely acknowledged today, that the epistles in their received form cannot have been actual letters to actual ecclesia. The salutations are rather miniature doxologies, while the bodies themselves, far too lengthy for period letters, are instead carefully-composed polemical tracts – albeit with a small core of authentic pauline material.

    Finally, appealing to inclusion in Marcion’s apostolikon as evidence of authenticity fails, as it also included three epistles nearly universally recognized as pseudepigrapha. Indeed, the sudden ‘production’ of a volume of ten letters, all attributed to Paul, each now recognized as problematic to varying degrees, argues for the inauthenticity of them all.

  • Where would we unlearned and ignorant hoi polloi be without esteemed Biblical scholars such as Mr. Giles (who is he by the way?) to tell us which portions of the Word of God that we may safely dismiss as uninspired… and possibly fraudulent? Thank goodness!

    Although… I guess that renders Jesus a liar and a fraud as well. For he was the one that said “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.” {John 16:13}

    Thankfully, out Lord warned us about such men “…who seemed to be somewhat in conference…”

  • soter phile

    You clearly didn’t read any of the linked material. Dr Kruger is a NT scholar, dealing with the evidences. You seem to want to appeal to popular usage instead of scholarship.

    If you really want to dig into it, check out Bruce Metzger’s The New Testament: Its Background, Growth & Content. He is widely (read: conservatives & progressives agree) celebrated as the greatest NT scholar of the last generation. And he utterly debunks what you are wanting to claim here – especially your contention that it “does not resemble any of today’s Christian Bibles”.

  • soter phile

    A brain surgeon requires a higher credentialed person/group to grant credentials.
    God appealing to a higher authority is self-refuting.

    To whom would God appeal for authentication?

  • soter phile

    Hillel never claimed the entire OT was about him – while quoting them.

  • jimvj

    Are you really claiming that Marcion’s Bible (the first defined Bible) resembles today’s Bibles?

    Please read this:

  • jimvj

    Do most progressive Christians realize that

    NONE OF THE FOUNDERS of Christianity
    had any concept of a Bible?

    It never occurred to Paul/Saul, even as he wrote letter after letter.
    It is never mentioned by Jesus, or his closest followers.
    It never occurred to the ANONYMOUS gospel writers.

    It was first conceived by Marcion, who was definitely an outlier “Christian”,
    about 150+ years after Jesus’ death.

  • SkippingDog

    The Gospels tell us everything Christ came to teach us.

  • SkippingDog

    So much for discernment.

  • fractal

    Discernment happens individually, AFTER one has investigated and looked deep into their own soul.
    To dismiss something without bothering to take it seriously, is lazy, and points to someone who isn’t really a serious student of spirit.

  • SkippingDog


  • fractal


  • fractal

    Not for you to judge.

  • SkippingDog

    Nor you.

  • fractal

    And look at what a terrible job they did!

    The Jews in the Old Testament specifically went to war with every culture around them that gave women any sort of respect and rights.
    They were one of the most misogynistic and toxic patriarchal societies in their region.
    Which makes sense, because “EL”, the original name for the Jewish god, was a minor deity of a mountain—a war god.
    Pretty Butch.

    Oral traditions have good and bad aspects to it; but don’t expect a “WORD” that doesn’t change as it is passed down.
    OF COURSE it changes with generations.

  • soter phile

    I gave a link to multiple articles from a NT scholar that directly refute your claim.
    You gave me wikipedia in response.
    I’ll let you think that over.

  • soter phile

    funny that you think it first occurred to Marcion, 150 years later.
    why do you think all those who preceded him held onto the letters & Gospel accounts?
    why do you think 2 Peter referred to Paul’s writings as Scripture?
    likewise, why do you think Jesus referred to the OT as Scriptures?
    why were they taken as a given long before the Council of Jamnia (AD 90)?

    no, as even Bart Ehrman (no friend to conservatives) has said: The canon of the New Testament was ratified by widespread consensus rather than by official proclamation.

    Read Bruce Metzger’s The New Testament: its Background, Growth & Content
    or the links I gave you above from Michael Kruger.
    you are making assertions based on your freshman religion class and you’ve missed it.

    for example:

  • soter phile

    you said: OF COURSE it changes with generations.

    that’s what higher-critical scholars said (and assumed) about the Masoretic texts of the OT for years… that there was just no way that a 1000 years of scribes hadn’t screwed it up…

    but then the Dead Sea Scrolls were found back in the 1940s & 50s –
    giving definitive proof that in fact the Word did NOT change.

  • Doubting Thomas

    Why don’t you just ask god which books are authentic? I find it odd you would look to human scholars when you have an omniscient being constantly listening to you.

  • Manlang Angha

    Shame on you demons worshiowor. Christ is king of king and Lord of koLo

  • Kevin Marek

    the very use of the term ‘fake’ in this article shows the thinking and discerning reader everything they need to know about this website. Fake means false and untrue. the fact that pseudepigrapha is included in the current canon is testament that one did not have to be an apostle to scribe what the apostles where teaching, since the earliest manuscripts of these letters are found amongst pastoral notes, pastors trained up under 2nd and 3rd degree of relation to the apostles, while also having coherent accounts and christological claims to non-pseudepigrapha. Writing in this way IN THIS HISTORICAL CONTEXT has been attributed to evidence that the actual person writing was less interested in personal accolade and more interested in what they deemed as flattery. Also consider that this was a time when literacy was severely limited relative to today, thus only an elite class was even capable of penning these letters. Letters coherent with the universal Gospel teaching of the apostles written by trained men who did not care for personal acknowledgement and attributed to the men who were teaching and preaching in the synagogues and streets from their firsthand experiences with the prophesied messiah, that is what pseudepigrapha is. Gospel of Thomas? psh, it’s not even in the same league because it is incoherent with the proven consensus of testable scripture, it fails, and is false. Show some modicum of intelligence before you crank out silliness like this article.